A recent review of city-operated golf courses commissioned by Toronto City Council suggests it may be time for the city to take a hard look at other uses for golf course properties that would be more beneficial to both the environment and the surrounding communities.
The report, which was prepared by City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation, found that participation at seven publicly owned golf courses is down by 15.5 per cent. It also indicated that city-run golf properties generated $4.5 million last year, but that is less than the cost to run them.
These city-owned golf courses include the Don Valley Golf Course, Dentonia Park Golf Course, Humber Valley Golf Course, Scarlett Woods Golf Course, and Tam O’Shanter Golf Course. All of these courses sit on ravine lands.
“Golf courses, by nature of the sport… have been put into natural areas, often valleys, river valleys and so forth,” said Dena Lewis, senior manager, planning ecology at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
She said that, although golf courses are “better than a parking lot,” they aren’t always as eco-friendly as some think. She said that the courses are developed in natural areas “that are essentially at risk,” such as the river valleys around the GTA that follow the natural heritage system. Development of these lands affects vegetation, wildlife and flood plains.
“The city has a number of goals in terms of trying to achieve urban canopy or forest cover targets, targets for connecting the systems,” said Lewis. “And when you introduce uses like golf courses, it reduces the amount of natural cover available.”